For Paradigm Health’s new nurse practitioner Kim Contreraz her compassion and desire to heal others started at a young age and set her career on a path of caregiving.
“My parents ran a home-based nursing home during my early adult years, and it helped me determine a pathway to assist them and forge my own career at the same time,” says Contreraz. “I realized very early in life I was empathetic to people’s needs and naturally gravitated to a healing profession.”
Contreraz has over 21 years in the nursing profession in a variety of settings. Her career’s early days were devoted to a critical care unit with a transition to caregiving in patient homes providing direct care preventing the aged population from hospitalization. Ultimately, the home care setting led Contreraz to work in nursing home setting when the focus shifted to allow elderly patients to age in place and avoid hospitalization.
“During my time in the nursing home setting, my interest in palliative care was sparked,” Contreraz shares. “I was having difficult conversations with people, and it opened my eyes to a need in medicine which goes unaddressed and is not usually approached by providers. The past 8 years of my career have focused on having difficult conversations to allow the patient space to help them identify their individual caregiving goals and assist them toward a peaceful healthcare transition and journey.”
Paradigm Health Palliative and Hospice Care Focuses on Patient Goals of Care – Unique to Their Journey
Palliative and hospice care, Contreraz confirms, gives a patient permission to share their intimate wishes and details on what they would like their palliative care to look like and ultimately, if desired, what their hospice care journey will be.
“Palliative care will address a patient’s physical needs and meet the patient where they are at emotionally,” says Contreraz. “As a culture we focus on birthing a child by choosing the doctor, music, pajamas, and who will be in the room as we welcome a new life — a birth plan so to speak. We do not always focus on what we want things to look like or be like at the opposite end of the life continuum. Paradigm Health’s palliative and hospice care gives the patient grace and comfort to make the choices and plans at the end of their life to create a healing, comforting and nurturing environment”
Over the past 8 years, Contreraz says she has worked closely with Paradigm Health as a facility palliative care partner. Many times, she would make referrals to paradigm Health knowing they would continue to nurture the patient they shared.
“When I had the opportunity to come to work for Paradigm Health, I was excited to work with a team that I had already created a high-quality working relationship with,” says Contreraz. “We have shared ideologies on providing an above-and-beyond level of care for the patient. My slogan is: ‘Take care of the patient and everything else will fall into place.’”
A Palliative Care Team Becomes Hands-On Support for a Serious Illness Diagnosis
As one of the newest additions to the Paradigm Health palliative care team, Contreraz says that palliative care can assist patients and their families by explaining where they are in their illness. Allowing the patient grace to make their plans, identify their needs, and then help them carry out their plans will be a focus as part of her new caregiving team. Providing a patient with framework to know if they want their chaplain, music, what they choose to wear, and who will be there to support them on their journey is a blessing not everyone gets to experience from day to day.
“My role as a nurse practitioner is to provide good symptom control,” adds Contreraz. “Speaking with the patient to know what works and what doesn’t. Taking the time to explain to the individual where they are in their illness and then taking the information I have learned and relay the information to the other team members. The continuity of care then evolves based on the background of each team member so they can each have an impact on the patient’s journey. We all have collective experience that benefits each family in a unique way and helps us create the unique experience the patient and the family desire.”
Outside of work as a palliative care nurse practitioner, Contreraz wears several hats. She’s a married mom of four kids who are all in different transitional periods in their lives. Her golden retriever named Ramsey also demands a lot of love and attention.
“I enjoy opening my home and making people feel welcome,” says Contreraz. “We often host cookouts and swim parties. I am a water baby and spend my time going from the pool to the hot tub. If we are not home throwing a party, we can be found catching a football or soccer game. I have been a Colts season ticket holder for 21 years!”